Though Maricopa isn’t too far from downtown Phoenix and all it has to offer, it’s another world entirely in many ways.
The town has an altogether different and unique vibe than both Phoenix and Tucson too.
Maricopa has been around for a while, though the old part has been largely lost amidst large tracks of modern development that have sprung up recently.
With all it has to see and do, and its affordable lodging, it’s a great home-base for your trip to central Arizona.
Many things are within walking distance, and lots of others are just a short drive away.
Below are 15 things to do in Maricopa.
1. Arizona Soaring
If you’ve ever been to Arizona, you already know that its sky is a unique shade of blue.
Arizona is also a large state, much of which is still relatively untouched by modern hands, and there’s no better way to see it than soaring thousands of feet above it in a glider.
Arizona Soaring offers packages for everyone, including tranquil sightseeing and full aerobatic – which isn’t recommended for those prone to motion sickness.
Though it’s not the cheapest way to see the magnificent desert, mountains, and city, it is one of the most exhilarating.
2. Ak-Chin Him-Dak Eco-Museum
The Ak-Chin are Native Americans who’ve inhabited southern and central Arizona since long before it was explored by the Spanish.
Located on West Eco-Museum Road in Maricopa, the museum was founded to protect and promote the people’s heritage, by educating natives and travelers alike in the ways that their ancestors lived.
The museum displays old items and artwork, and things made recently in the old traditions too.
Twice yearly in April and September, the museum holds celebrations of Native American culture, so check their website for specific dates.
3. Copper Sky Recreation Complex
Arizona is known for its copper and vast expanses of blue sky, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Copper Sky Recreation Complex is located in Maricopa.
Located on Martin Luther King Boulevard, the complex is a great place for you and your family to bond, have a few laughs, and burn some of those excess calories from the breakfast buffet.
Tennis, basketball, volleyball, and swimming are a few of the activities you’ll be able to enjoy, and the prices won’t put much of a crimp in your vacation budget either.
After you’ve expended all the energy you care to, there are places to relax in the shade and have a cold drink or an afternoon snack.
4. Roll the Dice at Wild Horse Pass Casino
Sporting a spa, world-class dining and golf, premium shopping and swank nightclubs, there’s a lot more to do at Wild Horse Pass Casino than play the slots and drink free beer.
Throughout the year, the Casino hosts many memorable sporting and cultural events, like mixed martial arts fights and art shows.
Wild Horse Pass is located south of downtown Phoenix, in Chandler, at the Wild Horse Pass Boulevard Exit.
Their website has a great calendar function that’ll tell you what will be going on when you’re in the area, so check it out.
5. Dwarf Car Museum
Having lived in Arizona for 10 years, I can tell you that it’s full of quirky places; one of them is the Dwarf Car Museum on West Halfmoon Road in Maricopa.
The museum’s proprietor, Ernie Adams, is an aficionado and builder of scaled-down race cars and classic cars that are actually drivable.
Even if you don’t fully understand it, you won’t help but see the passion this man brings to the miniature but mighty cars that grace the museum.
The museum’s star is a creation from the ‘60s called Grandpa Dwarf, which is a miniature Chevrolet made largely from old refrigerators.
It’s a great place to spend an hour or two, especially when the sun is at its hottest.
It’ll likely be one of the places you won’t forget.
6. Koli Equestrian Center
Seeing Arizona’s majestic landscape on the back of a horse will make you feel like you’ve been teleported back in time 100 years or so.
Located on the Gila River Indian Reservation, the guided tours will take you to some remote and untouched corners of the reservation’s nearly 2,500 acres.
If you’re not an experienced equestrian, don’t worry, you’ll get a patient horse and training before you head out.
Tours of varying lengths and for various abilities are offered, as are private tours for couples, birthdays and corporate outings.
Check out their website for schedules and pricing.
7. Huhugam Heritage Center
It’s no secret that Native American culture has suffered greatly over the last century and a half, and that’s particularly true in Arizona.
Part of the Gila River Indian Community, the Huhugam Heritage Center was created to promote the cultures of the Hohokam, Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh people, especially so future generations will understand and preserve their fascinating heritage.
The collection consists of baskets, pottery, artwork, and implements used by the people in their everyday lives.
Admission is inexpensive and the center is located on South Maricopa Road in nearby Chandler.
Check out their website for a calendar of events and hours of operation.
8. The Snedigar Recreation Center
If sports are what get you going, then the Snedigar Recreation Center in nearby Chandler are one of the things to do near Maricopa that you won’t want to miss.
With nearly 100 acres dedicated to baseball, softball, soccer and more, there will be a little something for even those less-than-enthusiastic sports fans among you.
The center, which is on South Basha Road in Chandler, even has a dog park and cricket field, which is a rare oddity in Arizona – or the states in general, for that matter.
The center offers instructional classes in many areas, and the fields can be reserved for private outings as well.
9. Maricopa Dog Park Alliance
Located on John Wayne Parkway in Maricopa, the Maricopa Dog Park Alliance is like a magnet to dog lovers all around Maricopa and the metro-Phoenix area.
The park is relatively new and the grounds are maintained nicely.
There are areas for big and small dogs, so regardless of your dog’s size, it shouldn’t feel too out of place.
Visitors have noted how clean and poop-free the park is, and have actually witnessed people who weren’t even employees walking around picking up other people’s dog’s droppings.
If you’re traveling without your canine companion, it’s a great place to get your fill of doggy-compassion until you get back home.
10. Shamrock Farm Tour
Shamrock Farms is a major supplier of dairy products to the state of Arizona; one of their largest facilities is about 20 minutes from Maricopa.
The tours of the working farm take about an hour and are given in an open tram, so bring a hat and pair of sunglasses.
Reservations must be made in advance and you may bring a bagged lunch or snack to devour after the tour – or eat in their café, which has plenty of dairy products and hot dogs too.
Their website has directions, booking information, and anything else you’ll need to know, so take a look.
The town of Arcosanti in rural Mayer, Arizona was an experiment based on the ideas of an Italian architect named Paolo Soleri, who was convinced that self-sustaining and productive towns and cities could be built that also minimized the negative impacts on the surrounding land.
The town was built in the ‘70s and had as its main industry a copper smelting furnace which was used by the town’s artisans and craftsmen and women.
The town offers unique architecture and many hands-on educational activities as well.
It’s one icon of American that you should plan to see when in the area.
12. Maricopa Lake Park
For visitors to Arizona, just the sight of palm trees swooshing away against a backdrop of majestic mountains and a blue sky can be pretty awe-inspiring.
If this sounds like you, taking advantage of some of Maricopa’s beautiful and free parks is a great way to get your fill without taking your checking account into the red.
Sporting a beautiful manmade lake with fountains, plenty of tall palms and a fenced playground area for the little ones, it’s a place you may want to visit more than once if you’re staying close by.
The park is a great way to watch the sun disappear beyond the mountains on the western horizon; the evening skies in Arizona often turn a mesmerizing pink-orange color that’s hard to describe.
13. Legoland Discovery Center
Legos have been around since long before I was a kid, and I’ve been around a while.
It’s always interesting to see that kids today still love them, despite all the fancy gadgetry that they have at their disposal 24/7.
Located on South Arizona Mills Circle in Tempe, the Legoland Discovery Center is a great indoor escape where children can’t help but have fun and be creative.
With areas and materials for every age and level, there’s also a café and a lounge for parents to take a load off and catch their breath.
14. Go Hang Gliding
Though admittedly not for the faint of heart or those scared of heights, hang gliding is an adventurous and jaw-dropping way to see Arizona’s splendor.
You’ll be paired with an experienced and qualified guide, and your tour will start by being towed behind a real airplane since hang gliders have no power of their own.
Once you get over the pre-flight jitters and understand how the glider works, you’ll be given a shot at flying it, if only for a little while.
Sonora Wings Hang Gliding is located on West Bud Road in Maricopa.
They also offer private lessons for those who want to work towards going solo.
15. Jane Askew Memorial Park
Conveniently located right in Maricopa, Jane Askew Memorial Park is a great free place to hang out and read a book, take a quiet stroll, or jump around like a monkey with the kids.
The park offers ponds, fountains, and jungle-gym equipment, most of which is covered to protect the little ones from the searing sun.
The park is semi-hidden in a residential area but open to the public.
It’s near Rancho El Dorado Parkway and Lakeview Drive; there are plenty of grassy areas to run around on, and even a basketball court if you want to bring a ball and shoot some hoops.